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Hip implant class action grows

David Jean From The Advertiser August 01, 2011 12:00AM

aus bus pix hip implant

An orthopedic surgeon studies a patient’s X-ray as he performs a hip replacement

SOUTH Australians with faulty hip implants are likely to share in millions should a class action succeed.

South Australians make up a disproportionately large amount of the 700-odd group members Sydney firm Maurice Blackburn is acting on behalf of, in a case principal Ben Slade says is one of the “biggest international product liability disasters ever”.

DePuy International implants were recalled globally last year and there have since been many cases reported in which patients recorded high levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood.

About 14 per cent of those who received a conventional hip replacement have required revision surgery, along with 11 per cent who had hip resurfacing surgery.

Mr Slade predicted a successful case would result in damages ranging from $50,000 to millions, depending on individual cases.

South Australians were the recipients of roughly 1500 of the 5500 potentially faulty hips implanted nationally before the recall.

Many of the implants in this state were carried out at Sportsmed SA by now-retired surgeon Dr Roger Oakeshott.

“It is a defective product that in South Australia was aggressively promoted and sold to hapless victims who deserve some form of compensation,” Mr Slade said.

Some victims have joined Brisbane-based firm Shine, which will proceed with a class action to America, while others are considering individual proceedings.

Mr Slade said a federal class action in Australia had advantages.

Individuals would have no cost impost from the firm representing them and any Australian affected by a dodgy DePuy hip would be represented unless they opted out.

Mr Slade met a group of victims in Port Lincoln last week.

He has spoken with firms representing about 250 South Australians so far about the class action.

In May, leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Ross Crawford – speaking on the ABC’s Four Corners program – warned that recipients of metal-on-metal hips may be suffering from blood poisoning even if their device was not failing.